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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

88         HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

were an anomaly which in the absence of any better form of educa-
tion could only result in a diminished interest in learning of any
kind. So far as the rulers were concerned, the changed estimate
of the schools manifested itself chiefly in a transfer of the posts
which had formerly been the rewards of literary and oratorical
ability to candidates who had studied law and had a knowledge of
Latin. Even more serious was the effect of the increasing weak-
ness of the municipalities. Up to the end of the Third Century,
many of the students of the rhetorical schools had found employ-
ment in their service, but the development of the bureaucratic
method of government instituted by Diocletian tended to aggran-
dize the central authority at the expense of the municipalities and
diminish the number of local magistrates and other officials. In
addition to that, the ever-growing burden of taxation led to a
general retrenchment in the educational expenditures of the
towns, and the statutory payments made by them to their teachers
became smaller and less certain and sometimes ceased altogether.
The emperor Gratian in 376 made a serious effort to stay this
educational retrogression by a definite prescription of the salaries
to be paid to teachers in Gaul (which included Britain). While
leaving the capital cities free to choose their own teachers, he
insisted that the rhetoricians they appointed should receive a
salary of twenty-four annonte—the annona was the sum paid to a
common soldier for a year's service—and that Greek and Latin
grammarians should get half that amount. What the effects of
this decree were is not known, but it is improbable that it
made much difference in the position of the teachers. The
only real cure, as Libanius pointed out in a letter to the
emperor Theodosius, would have been a strengthening <ff the
municipalities; and that the emperors either could not or would
not do.

In the ordinary course of events, the Christianizing of the
Empire might have been expected to bring about a very con-
siderable change in the character of the State education. But in
spite of its political triumph, the Church at the end of the Fourth
Century was scarcely any nearer a definite educational policy than
it had been at the end of the Second. There was still the same
distrust of pagan learning and the same inability to conceive of
any practical alternative. Even the greatest Christian thinkers,
men like Jerome and Augustine, showed themselves hopelessly